Westwood Apartments Aim to Draw Young Professionals, Empty Nesters

The 2 million-square-foot mixed-use development will include a shopping destination featuring an array of retailers.

(Boston.com) By Scott Van Voorhis Boston.com Correspondent March 18, 2015 3:20 PM

Long one of the top addresses for tech and biotech firms, Route 128 is about to become a destination for luxury apartments as well. The 350-unit Gables University Station in Westwood is set to welcome its first tenants in early June, featuring rents ranging from $1,900 to more than $3,000 a month. The upscale, four-story apartment community will take shape right off 128 at the new University Station mega development in the southern suburb.

The 2 million-square-foot, mixed-use development will include a shopping destination featuring an array of retailers, including Target, Marshalls/HomeGoods, Nordstrom Rack, and Sports Authority, as well as restaurants like Smashburger and Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza. A Wegmans is set to open at the 120-acre complex this fall as well. Douglass Karp, chief executive of New England Development, the master developer on the project, sees the shopping and restaurant attractions as an added draw for prospective renters deciding whether to move into the new apartments. Hanover Co. and Atlanta-based Gables Residential are also developers on the project.

It’s not just all about the retail, though. The new apartments are also taking shape next door to the University Avenue commuter rail station, providing a short hop into Boston by train. The new apartments are designed to appeal to a mix of young professionals and empty nesters. “We think there is a great synergy and really great amenities for the residents,” Karp said. “It’s kind of like everything you would want or need at your fingertips.”

The first test of this sales pitch will come in mid-April, when a sales office opens at the new project, Gables University, and leasing kicks off. The apartments will include high-end finishes, such as wood flooring, granite countertops in both the kitchens and the bathrooms, stainless steel appliances, and custom lighting fixtures, said Jorgen Punda, regional vice president for investments for Gables. “The finishes will be comparable to a single-family home,” Punda said. The four-building complex will also include a pool, a movie theater, a game room, and a club room. There will also be three courtyards, a gym, and a business center with meeting rooms.

The Greater Boston area is a particularly attractive market to build in, given the steadily expanding local economy and the new jobs being created, according to Punda. “Boston is attractive to us because of the job growth,” Punda said. “That is a big driver in apartment demand.” The University Station project is Gables’s first in the Boston area. The developer is also gearing up to start construction of a 292-unit apartment complex on Arsenal Street in Watertown. Punda sees the University Station apartments providing an alternative to more expensive, downtown Boston rentals. “We are competitive with a number of units that are being delivered downtown,” he said. “Our price point will be significantly lower.”

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